Australia asks Israel to quickly extradite alleged pedophile

Malka Leifer was accused of dozens of cases of sexual abuse of girls at a school. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 October 2019

Australia asks Israel to quickly extradite alleged pedophile

  • The 52-year-old fled to Israel in 2008 after the allegations first emerged
  • “My government is strongly committed to ensuring that justice is served in the case of Malka Leifer,” PM Morrison said

CANBERRA, Australia: Australia’s prime minister said on Wednesday he will raise with Israel’s next administration the need for a quick resolution to a 5-year-old extradition battle over an Israeli educator accused of child sex abuse in an Australian school.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a statement after meeting at Parliament House with sisters Dassi Erlich and Nicole Meyer, who were allegedly abused by Malka Leifer when she was principal of Melbourne’s ultra-orthodox Adass Israel school.
The 52-year-old fled to Israel in 2008 after the allegations first emerged.
“My government is strongly committed to ensuring that justice is served in the case of Malka Leifer,” Morrison said. “We call for the matter to be resolved transparently and quickly.”
“We also reaffirm our commitment to have Malka Leifer extradited to Australia to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse,” Morrison added.
Erlich told reporters outside Parliament House that she and her sister wanted the government “to do more.”
“Enough is enough. We don’t want platitudes, we want action,” Erlich said.
“This has taken a tremendous toll on both of our lives. Traveling back and forth, not seeing any results, the frustrations, knowing at some point she might get bail, it’s had an emotional toll on our lives,” Erlich said.
Myer, her sister, said: “We’re not just doing it for ourselves. We’re trying to give a message to all survivors that even if you have been abused, life can go on; justice should be served.”
Government lawmaker Dave Sharma, who was Australian ambassador to Israel in 2014 when the extradition request was made, and opposition lawmaker Josh Burns joined the sisters at a news conference to demonstrate that Australia’s major political parties were united in a bid to bring Leifer to justice.
Sharma said that after more than 60 Israeli court bearings, “we seem to be no closer to having Malka Leifer extradited.”
“We are here today to send a very clear message to Israel that this case is a high priority for Australia and it’s one we will be ceaseless in pursuing and it’s one that unless resolved soon will have an impact on the broader relationship,” Sharma said.
Israel’s Supreme Court last week upheld an appeal against a decision to release Leifer from jail to house arrest. Prosecutors argue she is feigning mental illness to dodge extradition.
The appeals court overturned a Jerusalem court’s decision a week earlier to grant Leifer release to house arrest “in order to give adequate response to concerns that the accused will flee or obstruct justice.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced this week that he has failed to form a majority government in parliament, marking a major setback for the embattled leader that plunges the country into a new period of political uncertainty.


US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with Taliban

Updated 07 December 2019

US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with Taliban

  • The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence
  • Permanent cease-fire would be the eventual goal, said a US statement

KABUL: US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held on Saturday the first official talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban since President Donald Trump declared a near-certain peace deal with the insurgents dead in September.
The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence, with a permanent cease-fire being the eventual goal, said a US statement. Khalilzad is also trying to lay the groundwork for negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict.
The meetings being held in the Middle eastern State of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, follow several days of talks in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, where Khalilzad met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
The Taliban have so far refused direct talks with Ghani calling him a US puppet.
Ghani leads the Afghan government with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in a power-sharing agreement brokered by the United States after the presidential elections in 2014 were so deeply mired in corruption that a clear winner could not be determined.
To head off a conflict Washington stepped in and forced the two leading candidates __ Ghani and Abdullah __ to share power in a so-called Unity Government that has been largely paralyzed because of the relentless bickering between the two leaders.
The Afghan government is now embroiled in a fresh elections standoff. Presidential polls on Sept. 28 again ended in accusations of misconduct and corruption, with no results yet announced.
Repeat leading contender Abdullah has challenged the recounting of several hundred thousand ballots, accusing his opponent Ghani of trying to manipulate the tally.
Meanwhile, Khalilzad’s return to his peace mission followed Trump’s surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to Afghanistan in which he said talks with the Taliban were back on.
While Khalilzad is talking to the Taliban about reducing violence, the US military in its daily report said overnight on Saturday US airstrikes killed 37 Taliban and operations by the Afghan National Security Forces killed another 22 of the militants.
The insurgents have continued to carry put near daily strikes against military outposts throughout the country. They now hold sway over nearly half of Afghanistan.
Trump has expressed frustration with America’s longest war repeatedly saying he wants to bring the estimated 12,000 US soldiers home and calling on Afghanistan’s own police and military to step up. The Afghan government has also been criticized for its relentless corruption.